Rolling Stones - Undercover

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Rolling Stones - Undercover
Studio album by The Rolling Stones
Released 7 November 1983
Recorded November 1982 - August 1983
Genre Hard rock, new wave
Length 44:46
Language English
Label Rolling Stones
Producer The Glimmer Twins, Cgris Kimsey
The Rolling Stones chronology
Tattoo You
Dirty Work
Singles from Undercover
  1. "Undercover of the Night"
    Released: 1 November 1983
  2. "She Was Hot"
    Released: 23 January 1984
  3. "Too Much Blood"
    Released: 1984


  "Undercover" is the 17th British and 19th American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released in 1983. After their preceding studio album, "Tattoo You" (1981), which was mostly patched together from a selection of outtakes, "Undercover" was their first release of all new recordings in the 1980s. With the advent of the MTV generation, the band attempted to re-invent themselves for a new era. It was the last Rolling Stones album to be released in Ian Stewart's lifetime.



Due to the recent advancements in recording technology, The Glimmer twins (a.k.a. Mick jagger and Keith Richards) were officially joined in the producer's seat with Chris Kimsey, the first outside producer the Stones had used since Jimmy Miller. They began recording at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France in November 1982. After breaking for the holidays, they completed the album in New York City the following summer.

The making of "Undercover" was an arduous process, largely because Jagger and Richards' famous mid-1980s row began during these sessions. Jagger was keenly aware of new styles and wanted to keep the Rolling Stones current and experimental, while Richards was seemingly more focused on the band's rock and blues roots. As a result, there was friction, and the tension between the two key members would increase over the upcoming years.

The lyrics on "Undercover" are among Jagger's most macabre, with much grisly imagery to be found in the lead single and top 10 hit "Undercover of the Night", a rare political track about Central America, as well as "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)" and "Too Much Blood", Jagger's attempt to incorporate contemporary trends in dance music. Musically, "Undercover" appears to duel between hard rock, reggae and new wave, reflecting the leadership tig of war between Jagger and Richards at the time. "Pretty Beat Up" is largely a Ronnie Wood composition, and Jagger and Richards were both reportedly reluctant to include it on the album. The album cover for "Undercover" had art direction and design by Peter Corriston with concept origination, photography and illustration by Hubert Kretzschmar.


Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars
Blender 4/5 stars
Robert Christgau C+
MusicHound 2/5
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars

"Undercover" was released in November 1983 to generally warm reviews and reached No. 3 in the UK and No. 4 in the US. It was a relative disappointment however, breaking a streak of eight No. 1 albums (excluding compilations and live albums) in the US and failing to spawn any huge singles. Its cover artwork was covered with real peel-off stickers on the original vinyl edition, which when removed revealed other patterned geometric shapes.

"Think I'm Going Mad" was a track first recorded during the "Emotional Rescue" sessions of 1979. It finally arrived as the B-side to "She Was Hot". It was not included on the "Rarities 1971-2003" collection.

"Undercover" continues to divide critics and fans alike. Although it was largely praised on release, many fans came to regard it as among the Rolling Stones' weaker releases, a view echoed by Jagger himself in later interviews. While some critics tend to blame the then-contemporary production and eclecticism, a large part of the album was done in a hard-rock style ("She Was Hot", "Too Tough", "All The Way Down", and "It Must Be Hell"), leading many to fault the generally inconsistent material. A great deal of the tension during the recording of the album stemmed from the fact that Richards had emerged (to an extent) from his destructive lifestyle of the previous decade, and thus sought a more active role in the creative direction of the band.



As with several latter-day Stones records, recent critical analysis has been kinder, noting the album's eclecticism and nastiness as a reflection of the Jagger/Richards feud. It would also prove to be the last album that seriously attempted to take the band's music in new directions; critics often fault the Stones' later albums as relying too comfortably on their early 1970s hard rock and blues formula. However, the record is still one of the Stones' less popular and more obscure releases, although it managed to sell close to 3.5 million copies worldwide.


Track listing

All songs by Mick Jagger and keith Richards, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Undercover of the Night" 4:31
2. "She was Hot" 4:40
3. "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)" 4:16
4. "Wanna Hold You" 3:52
5. "Feel On Baby" 5:03
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Too Much Blood"   6:14
7. "Pretty Beat Up" Jagger, Richards, Ronnie Wood 4:03
8. "Too Tough"   3:52
9. "All the Way Down"   3:12
10. "It Must Be Hell"   5:03





The Rolling Stones
  • Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, electric guitar, harmonica
  • Keith Richards – electric guitar, backing vocals; lead vocals on "Wanna Hold You"; bass guitar on "Pretty Beat Up"
  • Ronnie Wood – electric and slide guitar, backing vocals; bass guitar on "Tie You Up" and "Wanna Hold You"
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar, percussion; piano on "Pretty Beat Up"
  • Charlie Watts – drums
Additional personnel
  • Chuck leavell – keyboards, organ, piano
  • Ian Stewart – piano on "She Was Hot" and "Pretty Beat Up", percussion
  • David Sanborn – saxophone
  • CHOPS – horns
  • Sly Dunbar – percussion
  • Robbie Shakespeare – bass guitar
  • Moustapha Cisse – percussion
  • Brahms Coundoul – percussion
  • Martin Ditcham – percussion
  • Jim Barber – main electric guitar on "Too Much Blood"
  • Hubert Kretzschmar – Cover art Photographer & Illustrator
  • Peter Corriston - Cover Art Designer
  • Bob Clearmountain – mixing engineer




The Rolling Stones - Undercover

UK Rolling Stones CUN 1654361 stereo (1983).

Record produced by The Glimmer Twins and Chris Kimsey.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are free from tears, stains or stickers.

The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minimal signs of wear.

The album cover has a strong, undamaged spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

The original colour card inner sleeve is perfectly presented.

The original colour printed paper lyric sheet insert is excellently presented.

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